Contrary to his repeated denials while he was/is a business owner, presidential candidate, President-elect and President, Donald Trump's connections to Russia, Russian interests and Russian oligarchs date back more than 35 years.
As some Republican once said, "What a tangled web we weave, when at first we practice to deceive." Indeed, some Republican, indeed.
And thus, the Bloated Orange presents The Chronicles of Trumplandia: A Thorough Timeline of Trumpian Trumpery. As the name suggests, it aims to chronicle and archive the events, actions and statements surrounding President Donald Trump's long history of questionable business practices and personal relationships, and how they may relate to his decision to retain ownership of and stakes in his companies while serving as President of the United States.
The 1970s and 1980s
Roy Cohn Introduces Donald Trump to Roger Stone
Notorious attorney Roy Cohn introduces Roger Stone, a former Nixon operative and self-described practitioner of the political “black arts”, to Donald Trump.
Roger Stone and Paul Manafort, Childhood Friends, Launch a Business
Roger Stone launches a lobbying business with his childhood friend, Paul Manafort.
Donald Trump becomes one of Stone’s first clients, and in the 1980s, Trump hires Manafort as a lobbyist on gambling and real-estate issues.
By 1988, Stone is one of Trump’s closest advisers.
Alleged Russian Mobster, David Bogatin, Buys Condos in Trump Tower
David Bogatin, a 38-year-old former Soviet Army pilot and Russian émigré who arrived in America seven years earlier with just $3 in his pocket, pays $6 million for five condominium units in a new and luxurious Manhattan high-rise, Trump Tower.
At the time, Russian mobsters were beginning to invest in high-end US real estate as a way to launder money from their criminal enterprises.
David Bogatin Pleads Guilty to Massive Bootlegging Scheme with Russian Mobsters, Flees Country
Three years after he attended the closing of the condo sales with Donald Trump, David Bogatin pleads guilty to taking part in a massive gasoline-bootlegging scheme with Russian mobsters.
After he fled the country, the government seized his five condos at Trump Tower, saying that he had purchased them to “launder money, to shelter and hide assets.”
Australian Concerns About Alleged ‘Trump Mafia Connections’
In connection with Donald Trump’s request to build a new casino in Sydney, Australia, the New South Wales Police Board issues its confidential report on whether Trump has the required “sound repute, probity and integrity” for the project. The report discourages working with Trump, bringing up Trump’s ties to the Mafia.
Donald Trump's First Contact with Soviet Union Real Estate
Donald Trump visits Moscow and tours potential construction sites with his first wife, Ivana. But in December 1988, Trump dismisses the potential for a hotel project saying, “In the Soviet Union, you don’t own anything. It’s hard to conjure up spending hundreds of millions of dollars on something and not own it.”
According to a later report by Luke Harding, foreign correspondent for The Guardian, the top level of the Soviet diplomatic service arranged his 1987 Moscow visit with assistance from the KGB.
Two Months After Visiting Moscow, Donald Trump Ponders First Presidential Bid
Donald Trump issues a statement that he has “absolutely no plan to run for mayor, governor or United States senator. He will not comment about the presidency.”
Yet the next day, he buys full-page ads airing his foreign policy views in three major newspapers: the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Boston Globe.
In addition, an adviser says that Trump is planning an October 1987 trip to New Hampshire, the site of the first presidential primary.
Roger Stone Urges Donald Trump to Run for President
Donald Trump’s friend, Roger Stone, urges him to run for president for the first time. Stone arranges for Trump to give a speech at the Portsmouth, N.H., Chamber of Commerce, which garners enormous media coverage.
Donald Trump is Billions of Dollars in Debt
In the opening episode of The Apprentice on January 8, 2004, Donald Trump says, “About 13 years ago, I was seriously in trouble. I was billions of dollars in debt.”
Felix Sater Violently Attacks Man in First Run-In with Law, Victim Requires 110 Stitches
Felix Sater and Gennady Klotsman celebrate at El Rio Grande, a Midtown watering hole in New York, with their friend and eventual co-conspirator, Salvatore Lauria, who had just passed his stockbroker’s exam.
Despite being in a good mood after making $3,000 in commission, Sater gets into an argument with a commodities broker at the bar, and it quickly escalates.
Sater grabs a large margarita glass, smashes it on the bar, and plunges the stem into the right side of the broker’s face.
The man suffers nerve damage and requires 110 stitches to close the laceration on his face.
Felix Sater Convicted, Imprisoned and Barred from Selling Securities
Felix Sater is convicted at trial for his 1991 assault. He is imprisoned and barred from selling securities by the National Association of Securities Dealers.
Future 2000 Federal Indictment Accuses Felix Sater of "Pump-and-Dump" Scheme
Despite being prohibited from selling securities, a future 2000 federal indictment will allege that Felix Sater, Gennady Klotsman, Salvatore Lauria and their partners gained control in 1993 of White Rock Partners, which later changed its name to State Street Capital Markets. "The companies held themselves out as legitimate brokerage firms, but they were in fact operated for the primary purpose of earning money through fraud involving the manipulation of the prices of securities.”
"The trio would secretly gain control of large blocks of stock and warrants in four companies through offshore accounts. In an illegal “pump and dump” scheme, they would inflate the value of the shares through under-the-table payoffs to brokers who sold the securities to unsuspecting investors by spreading false information about the companies. Brokers were prohibited from acting on sell orders from investors unless they found another buyer."
"The partners would then sell large blocks of stock at a steep profit. Investors suffered substantial losses as share prices plummeted."
Senate Investigation Uncovers David Bogatin is a Leading Figure in the Russian Mob in New York
A Senate investigation into organized crime reveals that David Bogatin is a leading figure in the Russian mob in New York.
His family ties, in fact, led straight to the top:
His brother ran a $150 million stock scam with Semion Mogilevich, whom the FBI considered the “boss of bosses” of the Russian mafia. (At the time, Mogilevich was expanding his multibillion-dollar international criminal syndicate into America.)
Donald Trump Visits Moscow Again to Talk 'Trump Tower Moscow' and Registers Trademark
Donald Trump visits Moscow again, this time with his longtime friend, Howard Lorber, an American businessman with significant investments in Russia. There, the two men scout potential locations for a major Trump project.
The same year, Trump applies for his trademark in Russia.
Deutsche Bank Opens Its Arms (And Wallet) to Bail Donald Trump Out
After a string of bankruptcies in Trump’s casino and hotel businesses in the 1990s, Deutsche Bank becomes one of the few major financial institutions willing to lend him money.
Russia Defaults on Debt, Millionaires Scramble to Funnel Funds into New York
Russia defaults on its debt and its stock market collapses. As the value of the ruble plummets, Russian millionaires scramble to get money out of their country and into New York City, where real estate provides a safe haven for overseas investors.
Donald Trump Begins Selling Units in Trump World Tower, Attracting Russian Money
Donald Trump begins selling units in Trump World Tower, a skyscraper scheduled to open in 2001, which becomes a prominent depository of Russian money.
By 2004, one-third of the units sold on floors 76-83 involve people or limited liability companies connected to Russia or neighboring states.
Semyon “Sam” Kislin, an Ukrainian immigrant, assists Trump in his sale efforts by issuing mortgages to the buyers of the multi-million dollar Trump World Tower apartments.
In the late 1970s, Kislin had co-owned an appliance store with Tamir Sapir, a Georgian immigrant, and they had sold 200 television sets to Trump on credit.
By the early 1990s, Kislin had become a wealthy commodities trader and campaign fundraiser for Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who in 1996 appointed him to the New York City Economic Development Corporation.
Meanwhile, Sapir makes a fortune as a New York City real estate developer.
Donald Trump and Roger Stone Explore Presidential Run, Again
Donald launches a presidential exploratory committee. Roger Stone serves as its chairman.
Felix Sater, Tamir Sapir and Donald Trump Join Forces
Felix Sater and his company, Bayrock Group — a Trump Tower tenant — begin working with Donald Trump on a series of real estate development deals, one of which becomes Trump SoHo.
Another development partner in Trump SoHo is the Sapir Organization, founded by Tamir Sapir.
Donald Trump (Successfully) Targets Russian Buyers in Marketing Efforts
Efforts to sell Russians apartments in Trump World Tower, Trump’s West Side condominiums and Trump’s building on Columbus Circle expand with presentations in Moscow involving Sotheby’s International Realty and a Russian realty firm.
In addition to buying units in Trump World Tower, Russians and Russian-Americans flood into another Trump-backed project in Sunny Isles Beach, Florida.In South Florida alone, members of the Russian elite eventually invest more than $98 million in seven Trump-branded luxury towers.
Owners of another one-third of the 2,000+ units are limited liability companies that can hide a true owner’s identity.
Paul Manafort Repeatedly Travels to Moscow
Analysis of Paul Manafort’s flight records show that he travels to Moscow at least 18 times from late 2004 through 2015.
Felix Sater Pursues Moscow Deal for Donald Trump
Donald Trump gives Bayrock Group an exclusive deal to develop a Trump Tower project in Russia, Felix Sater testifies in a future 2008 sworn deposition.
“I’d come back, pop my head into Mr. Trump’s office and tell him, you know, ‘Moving forward on the Moscow deal.’ And he would say ‘All right’... I showed him photos, I showed him the site, showed him the view from the site. It’s pretty spectacular.”
Ultimately, the effort fails.
Paul Manafort Pitches Himself to Russian Oligarch Oleg Deripaska
Paul Manafort proposes that he undertake a consulting assignment for one of President Vladimir Putin’s billionaire oligarchs, Oleg Deripaska. Manafort suggests a strategy for influencing politics, business dealings and news coverage inside the United States, Europe and former Soviet republics to benefit Putin’s government.
According to later reporting by Reuters, Deripaska financially backs Manafort’s consulting work when it begins in 2005 and 2006. Sometime thereafter, Deripaska makes a $10 million loan to a company that Manafort and his wife control.
Rick Gates Joins Paul Manafort’s Firm
Rick Gates joins Paul Manafort’s new company, Davis Manafort. Gates had first met Manafort while interning at what was then Black, Manafort, Stone & Kelly, a high-powered Washington consulting firm at which both Manafort and Roger Stone were principals.
Gates, then in his mid-30s, becomes a key Manafort business associate.
Donald Trump Begins Decade-Long Cash Spending Spree
In the first of several cash purchases over the next decade, Donald Trump’s company pays $12.7 million for land in Aberdeen, Scotland.
According to future analysis by the Washington Post, “In the nine years before he ran for president, Donald Trump’s company spent more than $400 million in cash on new properties — including 14 transactions paid for in full, without borrowing from banks — during a buying binge that defied real estate industry practices and Trump’s own history as the self-described ‘King of Debt.’”
Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump Visit Moscow
Two of Donald Trump’s children, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump, travel to Moscow. According to Felix Sater, the senior Trump asked him to show them around:
“He asked if I wouldn’t mind joining them and looking after them while they were in Moscow.” He summarizes the attitude of Trump’s children as “Nice, big city, great. Let’s do a deal here.”
Ten years later — in October 2016 — Trump Organization general counsel, Alan Garten, tells Forbes that the presence of Sater and Trump’s adult children in Moscow at the same time had been a coincidence.
Michael Cohen, Childhood Friend of Felix Sater, Joins Trump Organization
At Donald Trump’s invitation, 40-year-old Michael Cohen joins the Trump Organization. Cohen has known Felix Sater since they were teenagers on Long Island.
Jared Kushner Buys 666 Fifth Avenue, Value Promptly Plummets
26-year-old Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s future son-in-law, runs a real estate empire that his father created and ran until he was put in prison.
Kushner Companies buys its flagship building, a Manhattan skyscraper on 666 Fifth Avenue, at the height of the real estate market in 2007. The building’s value promptly plummets.
To stave off default, the company sells off pieces, but remains in trouble.
Nearly a decade later, the building has a 70 percent occupancy rate, revenue covers only two-thirds of its debt obligations and a $1.2 billion mortgage comes due in 2019.
By 2017, Kushner Companies reportedly is trying to assemble a $7 billion financing package to convert the building into condos.
Paul Manafort Makes Bank Working for Pro-Putin Ukrainian Politician Viktor Yanukovych
Paul Manafort’s consulting firm receives a $455,000 wire transfer from Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych’s Party of Regions.
Manafort is hired to improve the image of Vladimir Putin-backed Yanukovych, who was portraying himself (falsely) as an anti-corruption reformer seeking to move Ukraine closer to the West.
“The West has not been willing to move beyond the Cold War mentality and to see this man and the outreach that he has extended,” Manafort says about Yanukovych at the time. Ukraine’s richest man — billionaire industrialist Rinat Akhmetov — had introduced Manafort to Yanukovych.
According to later reporting by The London Sunday Times, a Ukrainian prosecutor investigating Manafort prepares a 2015 memo claiming, “in 2006 Mr. Manafort orchestrated a series of anti-NATO, anti-Kiev protests in Crimea led by Viktor Yanukovych’s pro-Russian Party of Regions — now designated a criminal organization. The protests forced planned NATO exercises there to be canceled.” The Times notes that no charges were pursued due to a lack of evidence after Crimea was annexed, and that Manafort did not respond to a request for comment.
On Oct. 14, 2009, Manafort’s firm receives a $750,000 wire transfer from the Party of Regions as Yanukovych runs for president and, in February 2010, wins.
Donald Trump and Felix Sater Launch SoHo Tower
Felix Sater and his Bayrock partner, Kazakhstan native Tevfik Arif, accompany Donald Trump on-stage as he speaks at the launch party for Trump SoHo.
Donald Trump Praises Vladimir Putin on Larry King
Barely a month after the launch of Trump SoHo, Donald Trump appears on Larry King and praises Vladimir Putin, saying, "Look at Putin — what he’s doing with Russia — I mean, you know, what’s going on over there. I mean this guy has done — whether you like him or don’t like him — he’s doing a great job.”
Donald Trump Claims Under Oath He Had "Very Little" Interaction with Felix Sater
Two days after a New York Times article was published detailing Felix Sater's criminal past, a lawyer deposing Donald Trump in a libel suit against journalist Timothy O’Brien — author of TrumpNation: The Art of Being the Donald — asks, “What kind of interaction did you have with Mr. Sater prior to the article appearing?”
Trump answers, “Not that much, not very much... I would say that my interaction with Felix Sater was, you know, not — was very little.”
Florida Real Estate Crashes; Donald Trump Receives Massive Cash Influx from Russian Oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev
As the Florida real estate market begins to crash, Donald Trump sells a Florida residence to Dmitry Rybolovlev, a Russian oligarch, for $95 million. (Three years earlier, Trump had bought the home at auction for $41 million.)
The transaction is considered to be the biggest single-family home sale in US history. Rybolovlev never lived in the house and, since then, it has been demolished.
Donald Trump Jr.: "Russian Money Is Pouring In"
Donald Trump Jr. tells a real estate conference:
“In terms of high-end product influx into the US, Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets; say in Dubai, and certainly with our project in SoHo and anywhere in New York. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia. There’s indeed a lot of money coming for new-builds and resale reflecting a trend in the Russian economy and, of course, the weak dollar versus the ruble.”
Donald Trump Approaches Default on Interest Payments; Sues Deutsche Bank for $3 Billion in Damages
After unsuccessful efforts to extend the deadline on a $640 million loan from a Deutsche Bank lender group, Donald Trump sues Deutsche Bank and several other banks, claiming $3 billion in damages.
Later in the month, Deutsche Bank sues Trump to recover $40 million on his personal guarantee of the loan.
According to later reporting by The New York Times, Trump settles the case by receiving “a loan from Deutsche Bank’s wealth management unit to pay off the debt he owed the bank’s real estate lending division.... The wealth management unit later issued another loan for the Chicago project that is valued [in 2017] at $25 million to $50 million.”
According to later reporting by The Wall Street Journal, Deutsche Bank’s investment bank soured on the relationship but the lender’s private-banking unit stepped in and extended more than $300 million in loans to Trump entities over several years. Trump offered "personal guarantees" for large portions of the loans.
Sergei Magnitsky Dies in Prison
Russian attorney Sergei Magnitsky, 37, dies after physical abuse in a Russian prison.
Prior to his arrest, he had worked on behalf of American financier William Browder. Magnitsky had found that Russian officials had redirected more than $230 million in taxes that Browder’s companies had paid to the Russian government. After he testified against those officials, Russian authorities arrested and imprisoned him on Nov. 24, 2008.
After Magnitsky’s death, Browder makes it his personal mission to get justice for Magnitsky.
Felix Sater Becomes Donald Trump’s Senior Adviser
After leaving Bayrock, Felix Sater becomes Senior Adviser to Donald Trump, according to his Trump Organization business card. He also has a Trump Organization email address and office. The phone number listed on the card had belonged previously to a lawyer in Trump’s general counsel’s office.
Not bad for someone who has had "very little interaction" with Donald Trump.
Bank Controlled by Vladimir Putin Funds Donald Trump’s Toronto Tower
At a key moment for the financially troubled Trump International Hotel and Tower in Toronto, the Russian-Canadian developer of the project receives $850 million from the sale of his share in a Ukrainian steel mill.
A “Ukrainian industrial group” purchased the mill through five offshore companies, but the money came ultimately from Russia’s state-owned bank (VEB), whose supervisory board Vladimir Putin chaired.
The developer thereafter put $15 million into Trump Toronto.
Maria Butina Launches Gun Rights Group in Russia
Aiming to "seed a gun rights movement in Russia," which has strict gun control laws, Maria Butina forms the advocacy group called the Right to Bear Arms.
Donald Trump Downplays Involvement With Felix Sater While Under Oath, Again
Answering deposition questions in a case involving a Fort Lauderdale project, Donald Trump says he has only “limited involvement” with Bayrock Group, which was a Trump tenant “for a period of time.”
Trump testifies that he spoke with Felix Sater “for a period of time” when he was an executive with Bayrock.
Paul Manafort Is Deep in Debt to Russian Interests
Paul Manafort, known Trump associate and future Trump campaign chairman, incurs debts totaling as much as $17 million to pro-Russia interests, including a Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, who later sues Manafort and his partners for $19 million over a failed investment in a Ukrainian television business.
Donald Trump Considers Presidential Bid, Again
According to Roger Stone, Donald Trump considers running for president, again. Stone becomes a consultant, again.
Russian Oligarch Konstantin Nikolaev Supports Maria Butina
Konstantin Nikolaev, a Russian billionaire with investments in U.S. energy and technology companies, provides financial support to Maria Butina.
Russian Politician Alexander Torshin Promotes Maria Butina’s Gun Rights Group
Upon returning from the National Rifle Association convention in St. Louis, Alexander Torshin, a Russian politician, tweets favorably about Maria Butina’s fledgling gun rights group, Right to Bear Arms.
Paul Manafort Hires U.S. Law Firm to Defend Ukraine's Pro-Putin President's Prosecution of Political Rival
Paul Manafort — who had aided Ukraine’s pro-Putin president Viktor Yanukovych’s return to power — arranges for the Ukrainian Ministry of Justice to retain the U.S. law firm, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.
Yanukovych faces international criticism for prosecuting Yulia Tymoshenko, his leading political rival, after defeating her in the 2010 election.
The United States views the treatment of Tyomoshenko as a major hurdle to normalizing relations with Ukraine.
Skadden’s assignment is to draft a report defending the prosecution of Tymoshenko. In September 2012 — shortly before one of Manafort’s daughters begins work at Skadden — the firm completes its report.
U.S. State Department officials call the report incomplete and inaccurate.
President Obama Signs Magnitsky Act
President Obama signs into law the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act. With William Browder’s urging, Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Benjamin Cardin (D-MD) had sponsored the legislation, which the House and Senate then voted overwhelmingly to pass.
The Magnitsky Act freezes assets and bans visas, both for Russians who had a hand in Sergei Magnitsky’s 2009 death and for other Russians involved in serious human-rights abuses.
Vladimir Putin is furious with the sanctions and retaliates by banning U.S. adoptions of Russian children.
In subsequent testimony on July 26, 2017, before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Magnitsky’s former client, William Browder, testifies that Putin took the Magnitsky Act personally because “since 2012, it’s emerged that Vladimir Putin was a beneficiary of the stolen $230 million that Sergei Magnitsky exposed.”
Browder testifies that this worries Putin because “he keeps his money in the West and all of his money in the West is potentially exposed to asset freezes and confiscation. Therefore, he has a significant and very personal interest in finding a way to get rid of the Magnitsky sanctions.”
According to Browder, the sanctioning also creates a problem for Putin because it “destroys the promise of impunity he’s given to all of his corrupt officials.”
Paul Manafort Has Dinner with Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA)
Paul Manafort meets with a senior member of a lobbying firm and a member of Congress who serves on a subcommittee that has Ukraine within its purview.
The unnamed congressman is likely Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), who later confirms a meeting happened at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington. Additionally, Manafort makes a $1,000 contribution to his campaign three days later.
Manafort tells his business partner, Rick Gates, that the participants in the meeting discussed Ukraine (then led by its pro-Putin president, Viktor Yanukovych) and that it went well. Manafort and Gates prepare a report that memorializes the discussion for their clients, Ukraine’s pro-Putin government leadership.
(Manafort doesn't file as a foreign agent with the Justice Department, or disclose the dinner, until after he came under scrutiny during the Russia investigation.
And in 2018, Gates will plead guilty to lying to the FBI about the contents of the dinner meeting.)
Russians Attempt to Recruit "Idiot" Carter Page
Russians — whom the FBI later accuses of spying on the United States — discuss efforts to recruit Carter Page, an American businessman.
Court documents show that one of the Russian intelligence operatives attempting to recruit Page thinks he is “an idiot” who wants to “rise up” and “earn lots of money.”
On Aug. 25, 2013, Page writes a letter boasting, “Over the past half year, I have had the privilege to serve as an informal advisor to the staff of the Kremlin in preparation for their Presidency of the G-20 Summit next month, where energy issues will be a prominent point on the agenda.”
(Three years later, Page will become a foreign policy adviser to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.)
Donald Trump Contemplating 2016 Presidential Bid
Following Donald Trump’s appearance at a Republican Party fundraiser in Oakland, Michigan, his lawyer, Michael Cohen, confirms that Trump has spent $1 million for research on a potential run for the presidency.
Eric Trump Brags About 100% Russian Funding for Trump Projects
James Dodson, golf writer and co-author of Arnold Palmer’s memoir, plays golf with Donald Trump and Eric Trump at Trump National Charlotte in North Carolina.
In an interview airing May 5, 2017, Dodson describes an episode in which Eric admits that all of the investment in his golf courses comes from Russia.
Before the round, Dodson asked Donald Trump, “‘What are you using to pay for these courses?’ And he just sort of tossed off that he had access to $100 million... So when I got in the cart with Eric, as we were setting off, I said, ‘Eric, who’s funding? I know no banks — because of the recession, the Great Recession — have touched a golf course. You know, no one’s funding any kind of golf construction. It’s dead in the water the last four or five years.’ And this is what he said. He said, ‘Well, we don’t rely on American banks. We have all the funding we need out of Russia.’ I said, ‘Really?’ And he said, ‘Oh, yeah. We’ve got some guys that really, really love golf, and they’re really invested in our programs. We just go there all the time.’ Now that was three years ago, so it was pretty interesting.”
The Agalarovs Meet With Donald Trump in Las Vegas
Aras Agalarov, a real estate developer and Russian oligarch, and his son, Russian pop star Emin Agalarov, meet with Donald Trump in Las Vegas, where the Trump-owned Miss USA pageant is being held.
The Agalarovs facilitate a deal whereby Trump agrees that, in return for a more than $10 million payment, Moscow will host the 2013 Miss Universe pageant at a concert hall in Agalarov’s Crocus City development near Moscow. Russia’s biggest bank — state-controlled Sberbank — sponsors the pageant.
Among those attending a private dinner with Trump and the Agalarovs to celebrate the signing of the Miss Universe agreement is Irakly "Ike" Kaveladze, a U.S.-based representative of the Crocus Group — Aras Agalarov’s real estate firm.
Donald Trump Ponders About Long-Desired Friendship with Putin
Donald Trump announces that the 2013 Miss Universe beauty pageant, which he owns, will take place in Moscow.
The next day, he tweets about Vladimir Putin: "Do you think Putin will be going to The Miss Universe Pageant in November in Moscow - if so, will he become my new best friend?"
Donald Trump Ends Interview Over Felix Sater Questions
After a BBC reporter questions Donald Trump about Felix Sater’s alleged prior connections to organized crime, Trump abruptly ends the interview by referencing a mysterious "big group of people waiting."
Internet Research Agency Formed in Russia
Internet Research Agency registers with the Russian government as a Russian corporate entity.
According to a future 2018 federal indictment of the organization and others, it seeks to conduct what it calls “information warfare against the United States of America” through fictitious persons on social media platforms and other Internet-based media.
The IRA’s primary funding allegedly comes from two Russian entities controlled by Yevgeny Prigozhin.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara Files Prevezon Case
Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the southern district of New York (Manhattan), files a civil forfeiture action against Prevezon Holdings and others.
The civil forfeiture action against the Russian defendants involves money allegedly from the $230 million scheme that Sergei Magnitsky had uncovered.
Describing the allegations of the complaint, Bharara says that some of the $230 million that Russians had stolen through the fraud scheme that Magnitsky uncovered had been used to purchase “pricey Manhattan real estate.”
(Bharara will later be fired by "president" Donald Trump.)
Donald Trump Praises Putin, Again
In an interview, Larry King asks Donald Trump about a New York Times op-ed Vladimir Putin wrote urging the U.S. not to strike Bashar al Assad’s forces in Syria.
Trump had praised the op-ed, and tells King that Putin’s “done really a great job of outsmarting our country.”
Donald Trump: "Vladimir Putin is a Tough Guy. I Met Him Once."
On The Late Show, David Letterman asks Donald Trump, “Have you had any dealings with the Russians?”
Trump answers, “Well, I’ve done a lot of business with the Russians.”
Letterman continues, “Vladimir Putin, have you ever met the guy?”
Trump says, “He’s a tough guy. I met him once.”
Donald Trump Boldly Lies Under Oath in Sworn Deposition; Denies Knowing Felix Sater
In a deposition, an attorney asks Donald Trump about Felix Sater.
Trump answers, “If he were sitting in the room right now, I really wouldn’t know what he looked like.”
When asked how many times he had ever spoken with Sater, Trump says, “Not many.”
When asked about his July 2013 BBC interview during which he was questioned about Sater’s alleged connections to organized crime, Trump says he doesn’t remember it.
Steve Bannon, Robert Mercer and Rebekah Mercer Brainstorm Cultural Wars & Cambridge Analytica
GOP-megadonors Robert and Rebekah Mercer have a meeting aboard their luxury super-yacht on the Hudson River with Steve Bannon, their political advisor; Mark Block, a Wisconsin GOP operative; and Alexander Nix, a British citizen who leads the small elections division of SCL Group and will later become CEO of Cambridge Analytica, an affiliate of SCL.
Bannon is “intrigued by the possibility of using personality profiling to shift America’s culture and rewire its politics."
Russians, Russians, and More Russians: The Miss Universe Pageant in Moscow
Sometime prior to the Miss Universe pageant, Donald Trump writes a personal note to Vladimir Putin inviting him to the event. It includes a scrawled postscript saying that Trump looks forward to seeing “beautiful” women during his trip.
On Nov. 8, Trump arrives in Moscow for the pageant, checks into the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, and has a brief business meeting with Miss Universe executives. After the meeting, a Russian reportedly accompanying Emin Agalarov offers to send five prostitutes to Trump’s hotel room.
Keith Schiller, Trump’s longtime personal security guard to whom the offer is made, later testifies that he rejects the offer, saying, “We don’t do that type of stuff.”
Trump then dines at the Nobu Moscow Japanese restaurant with more than a dozen Russian executives and business tycoons, including top executives at state-controlled Sberbank PJSC, Russia’s biggest bank, which sponsored the pageant. The Nobu meal was organized by Aras Agalarov and Sberbank's CEO/long-time Putin ally, Herman Gref.
That evening, Trump attends Agalarov’s 58th birthday party at Agalarov’s Crocus City development. Trump and Schiller return to the Ritz-Carlton, where Schiller tells Trump about the earlier offer of prostitutes. Schiller remains outside Trump’s room for several minutes and then leaves.
While in Moscow, Trump discusses plans for a new Trump project in Russia with the Agalarovs and Alex Sapir, whose family’s company was one of the co-developers of Trump SoHo with Trump and Bayrock/Felix Sater.
Publicly, Trump says only, “I have plans for the establishment of business in Russia. Now, I am in talks with several Russian companies to establish this skyscraper.”
Also while in Russia, Trump says: “I do have a relationship [with Vladimir Putin] and I can tell you that he’s very interested in what we’re doing here today... I do have a relationship with him... He’s done a very brilliant job in terms of what he represents and who he’s represented.”
Shortly after the pageant, the daughter of Aras Agalarov arrives at the Miss Universe office in New York bearing a gift for Trump: a black lacquered box containing a sealed letter from Putin.
(Three years later, a report compiled by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele will allege that Trump fraternized with prostitutes in his hotel room during a 2013 trip to Moscow.)
Donald Trump Boasts About Relationship With Russian Oligarchs
Describing his recent Moscow meetings, Donald Trump tells Real Estate Weekly: “The Russian market is attracted to me. I have a great relationship with many Russians, and almost all of the oligarchs were in the room.”
Paul Erickson meets Maria Butina
While in Moscow as part of a delegation from the National Rifle Association, Paul Erickson meets Maria Butina.
On two previous occasions, Butina had been denied a visa for travel to the U.S., but after the NRA leadership’s visit to Moscow, she obtains a visa to attend the annual NRA convention in Indianapolis in April 2014.
By November 2014, Erickson is reviewing with Butina her long-term options for a visa that would allow her to remain in the U.S.
Trump Announces Plans for Moscow Skyscraper (That Was Fast)
Vladimir Putin didn't attend the Miss Universe pageant, but a member of his inner circle did: Vladimir Kozhin, the head of the Kremlin’s presidential property management department, which is responsible for construction and development projects.
A few days after the pageant, The Moscow Times reports, “U.S. tycoon Donald Trump, while in Moscow for the finale of his Miss Universe pageant Saturday, announced that he was planning to build a skyscraper in the Russian capital… Aras Agalarov, the billionaire owner of Crocus City Hall—the Miss Universe venue—said his company had ‘started talking about joint work in the field of real estate a few days ago’ with Trump.”
According to later reporting by Construction.RU, a Russian construction publication, the plans envision a Moscow Trump Tower in Agalarov’s massive development, Crocus City.
Russia's Sberbank Announces $2.4 Billion Construction Loan for Aras Agalarov's New Development
Russian state-owned Sberbank agrees to “partly finance construction projects worth 80 billion rubles ($2.4 billion) at Moscow’s Crocus City, the largest loan granted to the real estate sector in the bank’s history.”
Crocus City, owned by Aras Agalarov, is a potential location discussed for the Trump Tower Moscow, which Donald Trump announces on the same day.
Russians Launch Intelligence & Cyber Warfare Campaigns, Continue Until 2016 Election
Beginning “at least as early as 2014” and continuing through Election Day 2016, Russian government-affiliated actors undertake a wide variety of intelligence-related activities targeting the US voting process,” according to a future May 8, 2018 Senate Intelligence Committee Report.
Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych Ousted and Flees to Russia; Paul Manafort Travels to Kiev 19 Times
In February 2014, popular uprisings lead the Ukraine Parliament to oust President Viktor Yanukovych from office for gross human rights violations and dereliction of duty.
With the help of Vladimir Putin’s security forces, Yanukovych flees the country. But he leaves behind a handwritten ledger — the “black ledger” — with 22 entries for 2007 to 2012 purporting to show $12.7 million in undisclosed cash payments designated for Paul Manafort or his firm from Yanukovych’s Party of Regions.
Analysis of Manafort’s flight records shows that he travels to Kiev 19 times over the next 20 months after the ousting of Yanukovych.
Donald Trump Says Vladimir Putin Contacted Him in November 2013; Offers More Praise
In a Fox & Friends telephone interview, Donald Trump talks about Vladimir Putin: “When I went to Russia with the Miss Universe pageant, he contacted me and was so nice. And, you know, I mean the Russian people were so fantastic to us. I can say this. They are doing—they’re outsmarting us at many turns.”
Donald Trump Again Boasts About the "Beautiful Present" Sent to him by Vladimir Putin
At the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference, Donald Trump says: “You know, I was in Moscow a couple of months ago. I own the Miss Universe pageant and they treated me so great. Putin even sent me a present, a beautiful present.”
On the same day, President Obama signs an executive order imposing sanctions on Russia for its unlawful annexation of Crimea.
U.S. Imposes Sanctions Against Russia Over Ukraine; Trump Connections Abound (Surprise!)
On March 6, 2014, the U.S. imposed sanctions against Russia for its incursion into Ukraine.
On March 20, the Treasury Department extends the sanctions to a member of Vladimir Putin’s inner circle, Vladimir Kozhin, head of property management for the Kremlin. (Kozhin had attended the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow.)
In July, Treasury sanctions Vnesheconombank (VEB), a Russian bank who, earlier in 2010, had purchased a mill through various offshore companies, resulting in the Russian-Canadian developer of the Trump International Hotel and Tower receiving $850 million from the sale of his share. (He thereafter injects $15 million into the financially-troubled project.)
Treasury also sanctions Rosneft, an energy firm.
In September, it sanctions Russia’s largest bank—majority state-owned Sberbank—who had sponsored the 2013 Miss Universe Pageant and shortly thereafter agreed to “partly finance construction projects worth $2.4 billion at Moscow's Crocus City," a development owned by Aras Agalarov (and potential location for the Trump Tower Moscow).
Gazprom, a Russian state-owned energy company, is also sanctioned in September.
Russia's Nefarious "Internet Research Agency" Launches "Translator Project"
Russia's Internet Research Agency forms a department dubbed the “translator project.” Its purpose is to interfere with the U.S. political system, including the 2016 presidential election, by spreading distrust in presidential candidates and the political system in general.
It focuses on the U.S. population and conducts operations on social media platforms, including YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
By July 2016, more than 80 IRA employees are assigned to the translator project, and it is actively supporting Donald Trump.
Donald Trump Takes Putin Praise to Next Level; Worships "Ability" to Invade Sovereign Countries Because Citizens are Protesting
Donald Trump takes his praise about Vladimir Putin—in yet another interview on Fox—to a whole other level, saying: “Well, he’s done an amazing job of taking the mantle, and he’s taken it away from the president [Obama] and you look at what he’s doing — so smart. When you see the riots in a country [referring to Crimea] because they’re hurting the Russians, okay, we’ll go and take it over… You have to give him a lot of credit.
“Interestingly,” Trump continues, “I own the Miss Universe pageant, and we just left Moscow. He could not have been nicer. He was so nice and so everything. But you have to give him credit that what he’s doing for that country in terms of their world prestige is very strong.”
Asked whether Putin is a better leader than President Obama, Trump says, “It’s not any contest.” Putin has “played Obama like a fiddle.”
More Unprompted Putin Praise by Donald Trump
Speaking at a National Press Club luncheon, Donald Trump says, “I own the Miss Universe [pageant]. I was in Russia. I was in Moscow recently. And I spoke indirectly and directly with President Putin who could not have been nicer. And we had a tremendous success.”
Future Mega-Trump Supporter Peter Thiel and his Business, Palantir, Connected to Cambridge Analytica
A London employee from Palantir Technologies, a top Silicon Valley contractor to American spy agencies and the Pentagon, works with Cambridge Analytica to help harvest Facebook data, according to later testimony by Christopher Wylie, a Cambridge Analytica co-founder.
Peter Thiel, the co-founder of Palantir and a Facebook board member, eventually becomes one of Donald Trump's most prominent supporters.
Robert Mercer Launches Cambridge Analytica with a $15 Million "Investment"
Robert Mercer invests $15 million in SCL Group’s election division, which then forms what is essentially an American shell company that Robert owns almost entirely.
Steve Bannon chooses the name of the new company, Cambridge Analytica, and Rebekah Mercer becomes a board member.
Alexander Nix holds dual appointments at Cambridge Analytica and London-based SCL, which will service Cambridge’s contracts.
If you would like to read more about the events outlined above, then check out the following incredible articles that we referenced in creating our Trump timeline.
- Real Estate Executive With Hand in Trump Projects Rose From Tangled Past by Charles V. Bagli, published by the New York Times on Dec. 17, 2007.
- Trump’s Russian Laundromat by